Planning Commission to consider ban on medical marijuana dispensaries

 The Planning Commission will consider on Wednesday asking the City Council to revise the city charter to permanently bar medical marijuana dispensaries from operating in Downey.
Citing federal law that still makes it a crime to grow, use or possess marijuana, city administrators recommend the charter be amended to prohibit the dispensaries.

The City Council last year enacted a moratorium on medical marijuana clinics that is scheduled to expire Nov. 10.

In a report prepared by community development director Brian Saeki and senior planner David Blumenthal, city officials also cited reports of violent crime — specifically robberies and homicides — at dispensaries in neighboring cities.

“Besides crimes against persons and property, the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries has been linked to organized criminal activity, money laundering and firearm violations,” the report states.

California voters approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996. The state created a voluntary medical marijuana identification card program in 2003 to protect residents from state marijuana laws. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in June that of California’s 481 incorporated cities, 132 have banned medical marijuana dispensaries. Another 101 have enacted temporary moratoriums.

Best, Best & Krieger, before they were fired as the city’s law firm, wrote a whitepaper suggesting Downey had the discretion to either regulate or prohibit medical marijuana clinics. The law firm also warned the city against “adverse secondary impacts” dispensaries could pose. “On balance, any utility to medical marijuana patients in care giving and convenience that marijuana dispensaries may appear to have on the surface is enormously outweighed by a much darker reality that is punctuated by the many adverse secondary effects created by their presence in communities,” Best, Best & Krieger wrote. “These drug distribution centers have even proven to be unsafe for their own proprietors.”

The city of Los Angeles recently approved a restrictive ordinance aimed at corralling the city’s estimated 400 medical marijuana dispensaries. Attorneys representing marijuana dispensaries given shut-down notices have said they will sue Los Angeles to remain open.

Only one medical marijuana dispensary has operated legally in Downey. It closed after the city’s moratorium went into effect late last year.  by Eric Pierce 31st Aug.2010

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